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Public comment courted on state energy plan  

Anyone concerned about New Jersey’s energy consumption – or how he or she will be affected by the governor’s proposed energy diet – will have a chance to sound off Thursday at Atlantic Cape Community College.

The college is hosting the last of four public meetings this week on Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s proposal to cut the state’s projected energy consumption by 20 percent and get more than 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.

The plan, as yet, doesn’t list any specific options for how those targets would be reached. But Environment New Jersey, the environmental arm of New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, has already made some suggestions that it says would cut carbon dioxide emissions to 7.4 percent below current levels.

They include requiring automobile insurers to offer pay-as-you-drive automobile insurance, in which insurance rates are calculated by the mile, and pushing to increase fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks to 40 miles per gallon. Other suggestions include requiring employers to come up with plans to cut down on employee mileage and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

Corzine’s plan will be developed based on feedback from utilities, advocacy groups and consumers at meetings such as Thursday’s, said Eric Hartsfield, a spokesman for the Board of Public Utilities.

“This process is critical to the environment and the state of New Jersey,” Corzine said in a prepared statement. “It will assure New Jersey residents and businesses access to a stable, steady supply of affordable energy while maintaining and expanding our state’s leadership position in the fight against global warming.”

Since 1977, New Jersey has been required by statute to develop a new energy master plan every 10 years, with updates every three years. But the current master plan, created in 1991, was last updated in 1995, more than 10 years ago. The current plan is scheduled to be completed by October 2007.

According to an Oct. 13 draft of the plan’s goals, electricity consumption in New Jersey is projected to increase from 78.34 million megawatt-hours to 99.73 million megawatt-hours by 2020 without any new energy efficiency efforts.

Corzine wants 2020 consumption to be 20 percent below the projection, or about the same as current consumption.

He also wants to cut projected non-electric heat energy consumption to 20 percent below the projected 2020 levels and cut down on transportation fuel consumption.

The draft plan calls for all schools to incorporate energy efficiency, renewable energy and conservation into their curriculum by 2020, for public colleges and vocational schools to have education strategies that promote energy conservation by 2012, and for materials on energy conservation to be delivered to businesses, state agencies and local governments by 2009.

Rick Dovey, president of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, said the authority will be represented at Thursday’s meeting. The ACUA has invested in several cutting-edge clean-energy and efficiency projects, most visibly the five windmills that went online earlier this year.

“I believe that the numbers … on the master plan are doable, and if properly “¦ (given incentive), folks and businesses and institutions can make those things happen,” he said.

Atlantic City Electric and the state’s largest gas and electric supplier, PSEG, have both come out in support of the governor’s plan, providing it makes dollars as well as sense.

“We’re fully supportive of the planning process and the objective of securing an economically and environmentally responsible energy future for New Jersey,” Atlantic City Electric’s Betty Kennedy said.

Speaking at a public meeting on the master plan earlier this week, PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo said the plan will require “a fundamental change in how we think about energy and how we invest in infrastructure,” as well as redefining the roles of the state’s utilities and energy companies.

“It goes without saying that utilities should also earn a reasonable return on … investments,” PSEG spokesman Neil Brown said.

To e-mail Meggan Clark at The Press:

Meggan.Clark@pressofac.com

IF YOU GO

Thursday’s energy master plan meeting will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at Atlantic Cape Community College, 1535 Bacharach Blvd.,
Atlantic City. For more information on the master plan, see

www.nj.gov/emp

Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP by e-mail to
energymasterplan@bpu.state.nj.us and indicate whether they
plan to speak.

By Meggan Clark, Health/Science Writer

pressofatlanticcity.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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